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News > U.S.

Residents Urged To Shelter After Chemical Leak In Louisiana

  • Fire in Olin's facility, Plaquemine, Louisiana, U.S., April 19, 2022.

    Fire in Olin's facility, Plaquemine, Louisiana, U.S., April 19, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @Juan_de_Nada

Published 19 April 2022
Opinion

No evacuations were being ordered since chlorine levels outside of the Olin Chemical plant were not dangerously high. So far there have been no reported injuries inside or outside the plant.

Residents living in the Plaquemine area of Louisiana were urged to shelter in place after a release of chlorine on Monday night.The fire and chlorine leak took place at Olin Chemical, a third-party company that works at the site of the Dow Chemical Plant.

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"We've set off the sirens and we've got several roads closed. The fire broke out at 8:40 p.m. local time and was extinguished by 9:30 p.m. local time, but the crew were still working to contain the chlorine spill," Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said.

Parish President Mitch Ourso said the smell of chlorine was being reported in the air several miles from the facility. Authorities are asking residents living south and east of the plant to go inside, turn off air conditioners and close all doors and windows immediately. No evacuations were being ordered since chlorine levels outside of the plant were not dangerously high. So far there have been no reported injuries inside or outside the plant.

"Site emergency response was immediately engaged and we are working to stop the release. Employees at the facility took immediate safety precautions while the team began working to address the situation," Olin Corporation said.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Greg Langley said inspectors were headed to the scene. Exposure to chlorine can irritate the eyes, upper respiratory tract and lungs. At higher levels, it can cause chest pains and vomiting. It is extremely irritating to the skin and can cause severe burns with high enough exposure.

In 2016 and in 2017, Olin Corp.'s operations inside the Dow Hydrocarbons complex had three chlorine leaks that injured a contract worker, prompted worker evacuations and road closures though did not pose a risk to the public at the time, local media outlet The Advocate recalled.

One of the leaks, in December 2016, stemmed from a massive power outage that Entergy, Louisiana's biggest electricity provider, later said was triggered by the burning of sugar cane, while the others in September 2017 were caused after four electrical rectifiers tripped.

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